Tag Archives: Thomas Edison

What Have You Ruled Out?


Mr. Edison


“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

What have you ruled out? Yup, that’s the question.  Unfortunately, we tend to do this all the way through life.  Me too.  At this point, I’m pretty sure  I’ll never be a Major League relief pitcher or an NFL running back.  The aspirations that carry physical limitations are easy cross off the list.  I remember when I was a kid, I was messing around with some kind of science kit my Dad bought me.  It had a door bell you could build (I mean, what better to annoy the whole family than having a door bell buzzer you could carry around?) Anyway, I couldn’t get the thing to work and my Dad noticed my frustration.  He said to me “what would have happened if Edison had given up?” to which I replied wryly “Edison didn’t have instructions.”

I only remember this because a: he laughed until he cried and b:  He sent the quip off to some humor magazine that ended up printing it. That’s not the point really, I think I ended up ruling out being an inventor as a result of my glaring inability to take disparate low voltage materials and make them into something I could irritate my sisters with.

Unfortunately, we tend to do this all the way through life. We rule things out because of small defeats,  instead of using all we HAVE succeeded at and learned to get focused on how those things prepared us to do what we want to now. I have had the good fortune to have: performed in a Broadway musical, ridden a horse at a full gallop, skied moguls at Jackson Hole with Olympic trials going on next to me, went all in and opened a successful business, had a marriage for 25 years, given CPR to a person and saved them, given CPR to a dog that didn’t make it, raised three kids, ridden motorcycles in the desert, learned to play the guitar and the piano, written a weekly blog and much much more.

Take a look at what you’ve done and then take a look at what’s still out there that you want to learn and accomplish.  A lot of what I listed sounds fun, but in reality was a ton of hard work. Getting to Broadway, opening a business even riding a horse equals hard work not just put in over night.  I’ve had my failures sure. The dog comes immediately to mind, but realistically, I don’t think after getting run over by a car that was going 50mph, we were going to see a positive outcome.

Here’s the thing, I will not make the NFL at this point nor do I any longer have the desire to get my face kicked in, but If I trained like crazy I could be a Triathlete in the senior division.  I could practice 4 hours a day and in 10 years become a concert pianist. I could be a race car driver, motivational speaker, author or helicopter pilot. I could get an MBA, start more companies or become a pastry chef.  It’s all right there for the taking if I don’t rule it out.

Here’s the question: what are you ruling out? What do you really want to do and think it’s too late or you’re too old or short or not good with math. What are the little defeats of the past that have you sitting on the sidelines?  Don’t edit your imagination, feed it, stoke the fires of your curiosity and learn some new skills that interest you.

Hey out there, you woke up today! This world is big and if you’re reading this, you’re on the internet which means  you have access to all of the combined knowledge of human history. Use it. Change the world, as in YOUR world. You are only limited by the limitations you put on yourself.

“Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every conceived notion, follow humbly wherever and whatever abysses nature leads, or you will learn nothing.”  ~ Thomas Huxley

Goal Setting – The Way Forward

So here is where the hard work begins: There was a famous study done at Yale University in 1953. In that study, the 1953 graduating class was polled and it was found that 3% of the students had definitive, written goals for their future.  In 1973, the surviving members of the class were polled and it was found that the 3% with the written goals had more net worth than the other 97% COMBINED.  That is as powerful a statement as can be made for the effectiveness of goal setting.

There are a great many techniques for goal setting.  You have to play around a bit to see what you think speaks to the way YOU think.  I’ve done this many times in many ways. From straight up goals in writing to “Vision Boarding” which is basically goal setting with pictures. I’ll do a separate post  on that as it is a good variation for visual oriented people. I’ve heard a lot of theories on goal setting.  Some are very forgettable and surface and some really bring results.  I want to share with you what I have found to be most effective.

In 1937, Napolean Hill first published his seminal study of success “Think and Grow Rich.”  He was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to research and come up with a philosophy of success.  Over a 25 year period, Hill interviewed 500 of the worlds most successful people.  Not only did he find that the vast majority wrote down their goals, he was able to narrow down the common denominators to form a philosophy and a system.  Most modern goal setting techniques use and expand on this classic system, but in reviewing it for myself I find it to be the most purely communicated and a streamlined way to formulate goals.

Hill’s philosophy is relatively simple: Choose a goal, plan the work to achieve the goal, work the plan with persistence and determination until you achieve the goal.  Sounds easy enough, right?  The hard part is when you hit obstacles, and you will hit obstacles.  The majority of people give up the first time the hit an obstacle.  The difference between successful people and those that give up is that successful people understand that failure is not defeat, it is a necessary in the process of becoming successful.  It’s almost a yin and yang principle.  Failure helps to redirect and refocus your efforts as you move towards success.

Thomas Edison famously said:  “I did not fail 10,000 times inventing the light bulb.  I successfully found 10,000 ways that did not work”

These are Napolean Hill’s six steps of goal setting:


Fix in your mind your goal, BE SPECIFIC.  If it is wealth, fix in your mind an exact amount of money you wish to earn.


Determine what you plan to GIVE IN RETURN to reach your goal.  If your goal is financial, what goods and/or services will you provide.  If you want to shoot two movies, what preparation, study, ongoing training do you plan to do and other jobs to get there do you plan on doing.  I think we can all agree that in this world nothing comes for free. Whatever you want you’re going to have to work hard for it.  You have to acknowledge that in your goals.


Establish a DEFINITE DATE that you will achieve your goal.


Establish a DEFINITE PLAN to achieve your goal and begin the plan immediately whether you are ready or not.


Write out a clear, concise STATEMENT of the goal you plan to achieve.  Name the time limit for its achievement. State what you plan to give in return, and describe clearly the plan through which you will achieve your goal.


This is the most important step.  Read your written statement twice daily OUT LOUD.  Once in the morning and once in the evening. As you read your statement, see, feel and believe yourself as having already achieved your goal.


Take one goal at a time, obviously prioritize your goals, but break it down and do this exercise for every goal you wish to achieve.  I’ve found when I do too sophisticated and broad whole life goals, I tend to put them away and never look at them.  By stating one goal at a time, you will be focused.  If you have multiple goals, you will have multiple statements.  That’s OK, what you will notice is that the individual goals begin to form a tapestry of your life.

You can and must get to the point where you’ve memorized word for word your statement.  I think we all agree the mind is extremely powerful. Telling your conscious and subconscious the plan over and over will spur your mind to action and call on your imagination’s assistance in helping you come up with plans to get there.  Repetition is the key to success.  Again, repetition is the key to success.  The marketing guru Chet Holmes puts it this way:  “Success is not doing 4000 things 12 times, it’s doing 12 things 4000 times.”

All through my life in one, way, shape or form I’ve been a musician.  I’m still learning to play the guitar (10 years later.)  At the moment, I’m working on Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice.” Chordally pretty easy, but it is a finger picking song in “claw style.”  Yeah, I know, look it up, it’s hard.  Especially hard to do as fast as you need to, to play the song.  I practice it every day for about 20 minutes, more if I can.  And I’ll keep practicing only that until I have it memorized and can play it on command.  Practice towards memory recall is necessary in any artistic discipline.  It’s the same with goal setting and business discipline.  If you do not reinforce your goals everyday and tell yourself what you intend to achieve over and over again, you might as well not do it at all.  Mine are posted in my closet.  To get dressed, I have to see them.  I’m private about them, but I still have them in a place where I see and read them all the time.

You need to do the same to move forward.   Give yourself the 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night to work on the things that you really desire in your life.  I think you’re worth it. The question is: do you?

Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul the blue prints of your ultimate accomplishments.

-Napolean Hill